Stop antagonising Jonathan, Babatope tells Obasanjo

ABUJA- FORMER Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope has taken a swipe at former President Olusegun Obasanjo for criticising the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan,accusing him of being antagonistic to the government of the day.

Chief Babatope who is a member of the Board of Trustees, BoT of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said that insinuations that President Jonathan has supervised corruption in the country was completely wrong and grossly mischievous, even as he dismissed talk of President Jonathan encouraging ethnicity, insisting instead, the president is a ‘gentleman who has maintained the delicate balance of power’.

According to him, Obasanjo who had served this country should go into some comprehensive and responsible steps to help in addressing the economic situation of the country, rather than throw jabs at the system in ways that were gradually becoming unnecessary.

File photo:  Obasanjo and President Jonathan, putting heads together at the PDP convention.

Chief Babatope who was reacting to chief Obasanjo’s latest comments on the president, stressed that his criticisms will stand the test of time, adding, “My attention has once again been drawn to comments by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which are definitely antagonistic to the person of President Jonathan and also antagonistic to the PDP administration that president Jonathan heads.

“When he talked some few days ago that the performance of President Jonathan was below average, I felt so bad about it and I’m very happy that one of the major newspapers in Nigeria published my immediate reactions to that statement. I did not only say that former president Olusegun Obasanjo was wrong in bringing out those sentiment about President Jonathan but I felt that it was in bad taste and that what he said cannot stand the test of time.

Babatope said who said President Jonathan has performed well in office advised reasonable and objective minded Nigerians not to allow themselves to be misled into ‘believing matters that have no basis or connection with the reality’ particularly now that elections are near.

“With due respect to his age and the position he has held, it is wrong. Nobody has ever come out to indict President Jonathan of involving himself in acts of corruption. He has never encouraged it.

Like I said in a media chat recently, President Jonathan does not allow himself to be governed by sentiments and emotions. He allows all his functionaries to defend themselves whenever any charges are brought against them. What again do you want?”

Obasanjo, who had last weekend declared at a book launch in Abuja that President Goodluck Jonathan had performed below average in office, took on president again on Wednesday in Abuja.

Obasanjo during a book launch in honour of former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission(ICPC), Justice Mustapha Akanbi decried the state of the economy, corruption and general conduct of political affairs under President Jonathan noting that the President may not be telling Nigerians the truth about the real state of the Nigerian economy.

On former President Obasanjo’s take on the economy under Jonathan, Chief Babatope who noted that economic challenges did not begin in Nigeria today, said, “If you talk in terms of the economy, which Obasanjo said has been so bad; the economy is not something that is coming up today.

In the second republic, I was in the UPN founded by late Pa Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory, there was a time the matter was so terrible that in fact papa had to give advice, which was misread and misinterpreted by members of the NPN at that time. We are talking of events of nearly 30 something years ago.

Even he himself, former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he was military Head of State, he declared Operation Feed the Nation to stem the economic problems facing Nigeria that time. I remember very well the papers carried a picture of him carrying a hoe and going to the farm and said the economy was bad and that we should go back to the farm.

“What we should be involved in particularly himself as a former president of Nigeria is to ensure that we do things that will assist Nigeria in breaking the problems that we have. He has been involved in these matters. Why are you now saying that the economy is bad? We know the economy is bad but it is not something, which has happened today.

It has its roots in many, many administrations in the country. Doyin Okupe was correct in his analysis by saying that if you put the history of Nigeria together you will have to give a pat on the back to President Jonathan. I have been a critic of many regimes in this country; I have been to jail two or three times because of that stand; I have lost my job, I have no retirement benefits and therefore I am in a position to tell people”.

While emphasizing that he has been a critic of many governments in the country, Chief Babatope said even Obasanjo himself had serious economic issues to contend with while he superintended over the affairs of the country noting with serious concern that it was not right and proper to be continually criticizing Jonathan whom, he said has not done anything detrimental to the country.

He said, “While he is doing these, I can’t understand. It baffles me why he is doing what he is doing. Elections are coming. Some of the opposition parties are threatening fire and brimstones and then you are oiling what they are saying and yet, former president Obasanjo declares all the time that he is a loyal PDP man.

If we now accept that, where then is the truism in the statement made by people who in fact are practitioners of democracy that when you talk about the party system the party is supreme.

If you now say the head of government of your own party has done some things, which in fact cannot be proved, then where is the truism is saying that the party is supreme? Where is the supremacy of the party? We must not be seen to be throwing stones at the party system under the new democratic system we have in Nigeria. We have problems and by the grace of God one day these problems will be solved”.

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